On November 27th, 2007, I attended a discussion on Contemporary Issues hosted by the Certificate of International Journalism. The panel consisted of many different members of the media and academia, including: Susan Albright, Roger Buoen, Alina Oxendine, Gary Hill, and moderator David Hudson.
The panel began by discussing the separation between news and editorials in the media. Traditionally, the media were kept separate from editorials and opinions of the same media. However, the new media (predominantly the Internet) do not divide these two aspects as much as the old media, and because of this, there has become a blending of opinion and news. Some of the panel members explained that decreases in newspaper readers have driven many people to cable and the net for their news, which do not have the same separation as the past.
The panel next discussed what changes may happen to journalism with the shift to new media. The panel explained that online journalism isn't really existent yet. What they were talking about is the fact that most online journalists do not report original reports, but rather, they provide commentary in a secondary role. The panel came to the conclusion that it is too early to tell what changes will happen to journalism in this new age of media. However, it was noted that the new media do allow people to access information in an easier fashion.
The next question was concerned with how researchers analyze the impact of the news media on the world. The panelists explained that surveys and experiments, especially public opinion surveys, to analyze the media. The panel also stressed the fact that media affect voters! This is done through agenda setting and the promotion of political cynicism by the news media.
The panel next explored whether or not journalists feel power. One panelists explained that media endorsements to politicians play a key role in our political atmosphere. This is especially true in "lower down" races, such as school board, city council and mayor elections. One panelist promoted the belief that the media have a huge effect on the public. People make decisions on emotions, and because of this, media can affect people. However, it was noted that the media decision makers don't really think about this anymore. The media leaders have been trying to keep their audiences, and in doing so, don't really think about what influences they have on the public.
The next topic discussed was "media and politics." The panel explained that the media have covered conflict and the horse race over issues. Because of this, many politicians try to avoid "fighting words," which basically are lines that can be used as quotes in the media. It was also noted that the political system is broken. However, the panel did not conclude whether or not the media played a role in this destruction.
The last question was whether or not the media are held to a standard. The panelists concluded that traditional media are, however, the new media are not. What was noted is that most people know which sources are credible and which are not, and because of this, the public contributes to this standard.
I would also like to note that some time was spent on media conglomerates and who owns the media. The most interesting things said was that families used to own the media, however, most of those families have been bought out. About five companies own most of the media throughout our country. This has a huge affect on the media. Most of the family owners were concerned with providing a respectable, credible and dependable source for people to get their information. Things like celebrities, fashion, gossip and the material world were never really discussed. However, when news corporations took over, they became concerned with making more money. Because of the fact that sex sells, previous unimportant things became important in the media. This could be one possible explanation of why the media has become a "compilation of junk."
As for my overall evaluation of this discussion, I was pretty satisfied with how it went. The panel was composed with many different experienced people who have experience with the media. It was interesting to hear their experience and views on the world. I was also happy that the audience was allowed to question the panel. That was a good idea. I think that the next panel should be devoted to discussing how to get more young people involved in politics. This is a huge issue in our country, and I think that it needs to be brought center stage.
Research topic and researchers: Feminist sexualities, race and the internet: An investigation of suicidegirls.com, by Shoshana Magnet. It was published in New Media & Society 9(4) (August 2007), pp. 577-602. It was retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete on November 10, 2007.
Rationale of the study: The objective of the study was to better understand feminism in the context of the online community. Specifically, it attempted to better understand how sexuality is expressed online. Furthermore, the study examined cybersex from the feminist perspective. All of this was done by analyzing Suicidegirls.com, which is a site that allows women to display pictures and profiles about themselves. The website was also analyzed within the context of two cyberfeminist perspectives, the “utopian” and the “dystopian” (578).
Literature review: · Suicide girls was created in response to the material, fake women that are mostly used in pornography on the internet (579). · Suicide girls is frequently referred to as a feminist website (580). · The models are allowed to control their shots, and in doing this, the women are allowed to control the “gaze.” Most pornography is shot in the “male gaze,” but Suicide girls gives the control back to the women (580-581). · Because the website uses journals, attention is drawn to the emotions of the models (581). · Cybersex does not include the negative sides of sex (582). · Suicide girls allows for women to break free of traditional stereotypes concerning sexuality and beauty (582). · The internet allows for women to experiment with their sexual orientation easier (583). · The internet allows women to express their sexuality, but also, it is a place where they are able to fulfill their sexual desires (584). · It is important to remember the history of sexuality, especially when concerned with realities of women sexuality and inequality (585). · The internet has helped to increase the subjection of women (586). · The anonymity of the internet may contribute to some problems, such as the trafficking of women and children, the objectification of women, and sexual harassment (586). · These problems, particularly the increase in sexual harassment, often cause women to avoid the online community (587). · Some argue that the gender, race, and class structures of our society have been carried onto the web (588). · Some people are wary of the commodification of the gay community (594).
Research method: The method used by the researcher was a discourse analysis. This analysis included the models’ profiles as well as threads within the “politics and activism” category of the website. The researcher combined the methodologies of many other researchers, including: Lindlof and Taylor, Glenn Stillar, Sturken and Cartright, and Nicholas Mirzoeff (579).
Subjects of the study: The subjects of the study, as partially explained above, included a couple different portions of the Suicide Girls website. One portion was the profiles of the models. The other portion was “the threads attached to the ‘feminist’ and ‘equal opportunity’ groups within the ‘politics and activism’ category” (579). The researcher was attempting to understand how feminism was represented on this website and on the online community (579).
Research findings: There were quite a few findings with respect to feminism. One of the most interesting findings of the study was the way in which women were portrayed on the Suicide girls website. The women were allowed to control their own pictures, which meant that they could decide which photos and shots were used. This allowed the women to “own the gaze,” rather than having a “male gaze” (580). Another important finding was the representation of women. Unlike most pornographic websites that promote a stereotypical view of women and beauty, Suicide girls portrayed women in an unconventional way. Models usually had dyed hair, tattoos, and many piercing (581). There were also some findings when applying the two different cyberfeminist perspectives to the website. The utopian feminists argued that since Suicide girls used journals and testimonials from models, the site allowed for women to be “freed from the rigid norms that traditionally restrict female sexuality” (582). The dystopian feminists argued that since many models participated for money, and because of the hierarchical structures that are carried from reality to the internet, Suicide girls couldn’t stop the oppression of feminism as much as the utopians hope (585-586). The last group of findings were concerned with racism. What the study found was that Suicide girls portrayed the different races in stereotypical ways. The site promoted a “white dominance” belief about women, while at the same time promoting minorities in typical roles (589-590).
My thoughts: I was not impressed with the study. First off, I believe that it was very disorganized and confusing. Instead of having very specific sections, such as Literature Review, Conclusions, etc… This study just seemed to bunch all of the sections together. I would have liked to see a more coherent outline throughout the study. I believe that organization is key to help explain a study. I found the results of this study interesting, but it took me way too long to find them! One other thing that I disliked was the fact that the researcher did not suggest where future research should go in this field. As I have said in previous critiques, directing further researchers is needed to keep a field growing. Research is built upon research, and it is important to let others know what needs to be done next. With that said, I found the content of this study to be very remarkable. It was very interesting to see how this website portrayed feminism. More importantly, it was interesting to see that many feminists enjoyed this site, because it seemed to portray women in a way that they liked. I guess I just thought that feminists have, and always will, dislike pornography and the way women are portrayed. Furthermore, it was very interesting to see how the different types of feminism viewed this website. Personally, I really enjoyed this topic, and I like the fact that the researcher chose it. I believe that more research needs to be done on the impact of the internet on society, especially whether or not social structures transfer from reality to the internet.
Research topic and researchers: Problem gambling on the internet: Implications for internet gambling policy in North America, by Robert T. Wood and Robert J. Williams. It was published in New Media & Society 9(3) (June 2007), pp. 520-542. It was retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete on October 19, 2007.
Rationale of the study: The main objective of the study was to better understand online gambling. The authors recognized that online gambling has the possibility of being legalized in North America, so they wanted to understand the negative consequences of such policies, especially with regard to problem gambling (522). Furthermore, the researchers were concerned with the ethical effects of the policies, such as the morality and legitimacy of legalizing online gambling (522-523). Specifically, the research attempted to find (1) how often internet gamblers tend to be problem gamblers, (2) the associations and predictors of problem gambling in online gamblers, (3) and how gambling policies could reduce such problems (525).
Literature review: · The number of online gambling sites increases at a drastic rate each year (523). · Most online gambling sites are located outside of North America (524). · Online gambling is easier to access and provides more opportunities than traditional methods (524). · The number of problem gamblers in North America is minimal; however, internet gamblers tend to show more “problem” qualities compared to land-based gamblers (524). · Research has not yet told us whether internet gambling causes problem gambling, or rather, if problem gamblers just use internet gambling for the convenience (524). · Internet gambling provides many conveniences that land-based gambling cannot, such as accessibility, the ability to remain anonymous and the ability to play in a relaxed place, such as at home or work (525). · Because internet gambling is more convenient, it may lead to more usage (525). · Internet gambling hooks players by inflating winning during the “demo” sessions compared to when actually playing for money (525). · Internet gambling does not use many safeguards to protect users from developing unhealthy behavior (525).
Research method: The method used by the researchers was an online survey. The survey included demographic questions, gambling activity questions and questions from a shortened version of the Canadian Problem Gambling Index, or CPGI (527).
Subjects of the study: The subjects of the study included 1,920 internet gamblers. The subjects were recruited by placing a banner advertisement on three “gambling portal” websites. Gambling portals are websites that provide links to multiple gambling related webpages. Because of this, the researchers were able to recruit internet gamblers at the very place that they were attempting to gamble. Also, the researches noted that some gambling portals would not allow them to place advertisement on their websites, because they did not want people “bothering” their consumers (526).
Research findings: The first thing that the researchers reported were the demographics of the study participants (or subjects). A noteworthy finding was that 56% of the participants were men, while the average age of the respondents was only 34 years old (530). Also, only 45% of the participants were married, and a little over half of the subjects described themselves as “religious” (530). The researchers next reported the gambling behaviors of the subjects. The average time spent gambling online was five hours per week, while about 4% of the subjects spent over 20 hours a week online gambling. With respect to problem gambling, 22.6% of respondents were classified as moderate and 20.1% were classified as severe. Almost one quarter of the subjects were classified as “at risk” of becoming problem gamblers (533). Surprising to the researchers was the fact that there were only a few consistent predictors of problem gambling. Wood & Williams (2007) explain this by saying, “On an individual basis, the only variables that reliably predicted problem gambling status were: time spent gambling, East-Asian ancestry, South-Asian ancestry, African ancestry, a preference for non-internet gambling and male gender” (534). The researchers were very surprised by the fact that online gamblers actually preferred non-internet gambling. Because of this, the researchers explained that it is unlikely that online gambling causes problem gambling (534-535). The most interesting and important finding was that there was a high rate of problem gambling among internet gamblers. Furthermore, internet gamblers that were not already problem gamblers had an extremely high propensity to become so (537). Because of this finding, the researchers provided some suggestions to those governments that are considering whether to legalize internet gambling. The suggestions included: “Provide internet gamblers with feedback about their problem gambling status,” “develop internet-based treatment and prevention programs,” “implement controls that regulate access and use,” and “implement strict controls over advertising and promotion” (537-538).
My thoughts: I was fairly satisfied and impressed with this study. I thought that it was executed professionally, and I believe that very important and relevant conclusions were drawn from the study. Also, I liked the fact that the researchers provided a lot of direction for further research. I am a firm believer in letting future researchers know what could be done to develop the field further. For example, the researchers suggest that further studies need to be conducted to determine what relationship exists between a problem gambler’s land-based and online gambling behaviors (535). Also, the researchers said that further studies need to find the differences that exist between online gamblers and land-based gamblers (536). Like I said, it is really important to suggest what future research should examine, and I believe that the authors did this fully. The biggest problem that I had with this study is that it used a survey. I believe that surveys sometimes do not provide the information that you are looking for accurately. People often lie or manipulate their answers when answering a survey. I believe that this study would have more validity and reliability if the researchers were able to use some other methodology. However, I do recognize that using any other method would be very difficult if not impossible. Therefore, I believe that this study should be replicated a few times to see if the results are consistent. Also, I believe that the Literature Review for this study was rather weak. While it did provide us with some important information, I believe that it could have discussed more of the past studies conducted in this field. On that note, however, I do recognize the fact that this is a rather new field within Communication Studies, and for that reason, I can understand why the researchers were unable to find more information.
Research topic and researchers: Mapping the blogosphere: Professional and citizen-based media in the global news arena, by Stephen D. Reese, Lou Rutigliano, Kideuk Hyun and Jaekwan Jeong. It was published in Journalism 8(3) (June 2007), pp. 235-261. It was retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete on September 27, 2007.
Rationale of the study: The main objective of the study was to better understand how blog communities create patterns and relationships between professional based media and citizen based media in the areas of news and politics. In other words, the study attempted to better understand weblog networks, which are the links that are provided to outside sites within these blogs (236). Specifically, the research attempted to find (1) how often links are provided on a blog to other media sources, (2) the relationship between the blog’s political affiliation and the links to media, (3) the relationship between the blog’s political affiliation and the affiliation of the links, (4) and the relationship between the blog’s affiliation and links to international authors (241).
Literature review: · The shifting of news sources to the web has restructured the media arena as we know it. This change has made news more accessible and quicker to get. The relationship between news providers and recipients is changing dramatically (236). · Traditional media has allowed journalists to be “gatekeepers.” This occurs because journalists are the only people that have an opportunity to be the constructors of messages to the public (237). · The blogosphere allows citizens to have active voices in the media, which creates more citizen-based conversation (237). · New technologies can be credited with a lot of the changes to the professional media. Technological advancements, such as blogs, have allowed for more interactivity among the general public (237-238). · The blogosphere encompasses both professional journalism and citizen-based journalism (238). · Blogs are the fastest growing type of citizen-based media (239). · Blogs have greater interactivity compared to professional news sources (239). · Because blogs often rely on professional media, they could be considered supplementary rather than another alternative (239-240). · Since the Internet is rather open, it leads to many cross national and cultural interactions (241). Since the authors recognized that there is a new role of media with changing boundaries, they decide to examine the blogosphere within three particular boundaries, including: professional, political and geographic boundaries (238).
Research methods: The method that the researchers used was a content analysis of the weblog network, a.k.a. blogosphere.
Subjects of the study: The subjects of the study were six of the top rated weblogs that were related to news and politics. The researchers believe that only using the top blogs is a good first step towards researching online interactions (241). Three liberal blogs, including Talking Points Memo, Atrios and Daily Kos were selected. Three conservative blogs, including Instapundit, Andrew Sullivan and Little Green Footballs were also chosen (242). The activities of the blogs were observed from February 6-13, 2005 (244). The blog network was determined as the links to outside sources from the main blogs. Each primary (main) blog was allowed to have six posts/sites (links to outside) that were involved with it (245). The researchers observed 410 posts on the primary web blogs and 779 links to outside sources from those primary blogs (245).
Research findings: One of the most interesting findings was that traditional media (including journalists) play an important role in the blog network. About 48% of the links were to professional media while only 33% of links went to other blogs (249). The study also found that about 44% of the authors of the blog posts were citizens while about 42% were from professional media (252). Another result produced by the study was that the affiliation of the blog affected the affiliation of the links provided on it. Liberal affiliated blogs promoted liberal affiliated links to other sites, while conservative blogs promoted conservative links to sites. What was interesting, however, was the fact that 48.8% of the blogs led to nonpartisan links. This was an interesting and unexpected finding (256). Another important finding was that U.S. blogs have not yet branched out much past national boundaries (256). The researchers also applied the three boundaries with respect to the blogosphere. With respect to the professional boundary, the results found that blogs provide an additional “second market” to the traditional media. The blogs rely heavily on professional news, which is most evident in the fact that the blogs usually discuss items that were first brought up in the professional media. The researchers also explained that the line between professional media and citizen media is slowly disappearing, which means that the two are becoming more intertwined (257-258). With respect to the political boundary, the greatest find was that many nonpartisan sources were offered within the blogosphere, which could indicate that we are not that divergent as a society (258). With respect to the geographic boundary, the most important finding was that the cross-nationalization of the blogosphere is yet to happen. However, here the researchers indicated an area that could be studied further. They explained that a cross-national study of the boundaries could be useful, and it is something that should be pursued in the future (258).
My position: The study was neatly organized and executed, which I liked about it. Also, I liked that the researchers used a content analysis method, mostly because this method exposed the researchers to the blogosphere first-hand, and it allowed them to make proper interpretations. This is a new area within the field of communication studies, and I like how the authors addressed that when explaining their study. I especially enjoyed how the researchers gave direction on what research could be done next in this field. This is an important step in the expansion of such an undeveloped issue like this one. With that said, I believe that the study had one major flaw. The authors only used six of the top blogs in their study, which is a fact that they acknowledge in their writing. However, the problem that I have with using such a small amount of subjects is that I don’t think that the results can be generalized to the real world, or in other words, to the entire blogosphere. The study can only be used to infer the behavior of “top” weblogs, and unfortunately it cannot be used for all weblogs.
Well our Scotland trip was an exciting adventure. We took off from the MSP airport at 7:00 P.M. on Monday the 12th. I didn't really get any sleep on the plane, which meant that I went way over a day without sleeping! I was pretty tired when we arrived in Inverness, which was at about 5:00 P.M.
As for the curling, our team did pretty ok. We played pretty well in the beginning, which allowed us to qualify for the quarterfinals. We lost in the quarters though, so that was kind of disappointing.
As for the travel experience, Scotland was amazing. We got to see a bunch of different things. We did a lot of shopping in the city center, which was located close to where we were staying. We walked everywhere. I think we put on about 15 miles of walking during the trip!!! There was a river that traveled right through the middle of the town, which had lots of shops and restaurants located on it. Everything was so expensive because of how weak the dollar was. The pound was worth double our dollar. Other than that, we got to see Loch Ness, which was pretty amazing. I didn't see the monster, but it was still a fun experience.
With Thanksgiving over, the semester is getting close to the end. Lots of homework is coming up!